Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

dodd.jpgCan’t-believe-he’s-still-running candidate Christopher Dodd stars in a Christian Science Monitor faith and values profile that has him talking more than usual about his Catholicism’s influence on his life. Indeed, the influence is so deep that God-o-Meter is surprised he doesn’t open up about it more often:

After graduating from a Jesuit prep school outside Washington, Dodd went on to Providence College in Rhode Island, a Catholic school run by Dominican friars. From there, he went on to serve two years in the Peace Corps in the mountains of the Dominican Republic….
“It was my epiphany: I remembered what it was to be an American, to be optimistic and confident even at a time [when] the Vietnam War was raging and we were divided,” he says. “There was a sense that we were doing good things for our country and for others.”
…. Dodd views himself as a serious and committed Roman Catholic. He calls the church his “spiritual home.” But in his 30-plus years in public service, he has never “worn his faith on his sleeve,” according to Howard Reiter, a political scientist at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. Dodd is comfortable with the fact that his wife, Ms. Clegg, is a Mormon.
Last spring, at a round table on faith in public life at Boston College, Dodd talked extensively about how his faith “strongly informs” and “guides” his decisionmaking. It taught him “to promote the common good, social justice, and to do everything possible to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable,” he says.
Yet he believes strongly in the separation of church and state – but says it shouldn’t be a solid, impermeable wall. He describes it as a window through which each side can watch and stay informed about the other.
“It’s not a window that you can open, but in your public decisions, there’s got to be some reflection [of religious beliefs]. Decisions have to be at least informed by them,” he says during an interview. “But if you start getting overly defined by your religious views, then I think you’ve crossed over the wall.”
Dodd favors abortion rights, a stance that has at times made him feel isolated because it puts him at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Yet he’s adamant that the difference in opinion will not affect his belief in God.
“I finally had to say, ‘Was this my faith or not?’ ” he says. “If I was going to be driven out of my faith because some priest or monsignor or bishop was issuing press releases about me, then how deep was my faith then? So I got over that problem a long time ago.”

God-o-Meter notes that even the Democratic also-rans are refusing to let their church define their faith commitment, as Democratic nominee John Kerry did in 2004.


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